Ericksen and Jorge Casuso
November 8 -- One of the nastiest races in Santa Monica
history and $1 million spent to sway voters did nothing to change
the makeup of the City Council in Tuesday’s election.
With all the precinct votes counted, Council member Kevin McKeown
finished first with 12,033 votes, followed by fellow Santa Monicans
for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) incumbent Pam O’Connor
with 11,374 votes and Mayor Bob Holbrook, who has long led SMRR’s
opposition, with 11,142 votes.
|Council member Kevin McKeown
is congratulated by former Mayor Dennis Zane. (Photos by Olin
Challenger Terry O’Day -- who with Holbrook was backed
by a $500,000 campaign bankrolled by the owners two beachfront
hotels -- finished fourth with 9,927 votes, while SMRR challenger
Gleam Davis, finished a distant fifth with 8,162 votes.
Although it is likely that several thousand absentee ballots
have not yet been counted, the tally is not expected to change
the outcome of the race.
“It is an incumbent win,” said former mayor Dennis
Zane, a co-chair of SMRR. “Bob held his base, and we held
our base for Pam and Kevin despite the fact that we had a million
dollars spent to change the composition of the council.
“It’s an amazing result to have several hundred thousand
dollars attacking a single city council candidate, and have the
voters of Santa Monica see through it clearly that they make that
candidate number one,” Zane said. “I think that is
a strong message.”
All three incumbents were attacked by different camps, with McKeown
the target of an unprecedented, hard-hitting campaign bankrolled
by the Edward Thomas Management Company, which owns Casa del Mar
and Shutters on the Beach. (see
Hunched over a computer at 2 a.m. and with all 72 precincts reporting,
Zane, surrounded by many of the core members of the nearly three
decades old tenants group, declared that their candidate had blunted
a maelstrom unseen in the City’s election history.
“Number one vote getter, Kevin McKeown,” Zane announced
with unrepressed exuberance, as whoops and hollers rang out.
Moments later, McKeown -- the target of a barrage of election
mailers and local cable television spots that were also handed
out to voters on DVDs -- told The Lookout that he would
push for campaign finance reform to “control the impact
of independent expenditures or at least increase their accountability.”
“This community has shown it won’t accept the kind
of overblown, over-funded campaign that was run this time, and
my first commitment is to make sure no candidate ever has to go
through this again,” a haggard and gaunt McKeown said.
“My wishes expressed tonight should be turned into campaign
finance reform and to have truly clean elections in Santa Monica
from here on out,” he said. “This really shows what
attention local voters pay to elections and how much we care about
|SMRR leaders monitor election
McKeown said he would seek to place an item on the City Council
agenda this month that would bar campaigns such as the one waged
by Edward Thomas Management Company, which spent some $100,000
opposing McKeown and another $400,000 backing Holbrook and O’Day.
“We take the time to follow the money,” he said.
“I want to make easier for voters to follow the money, and
for Santa Monicans to know who is paying for the messages and
what those messages truly mean.”
Zane said he supported reforming local campaign laws to limit
contributions to independent committees to the $250 per individual
allowed under current election law.
“The idea that individuals could donate tens, even hundreds
of thousands of dollars to a committee, even though it might operate
as an independent committee, is outrageous,” he said.
“SMRR is an independent committee, but we don’t accept
more than $250 per contribution… because that’s what
we believe the law says,” he said.
Despite being hit hard on the issue of homelessness, it was a
saavy voting base in Santa Monica that kept the renters’
group in power, Zane said.
“It certainly shows that voters feelings about homelessness
are far more complex than the hit pieces they put out,”
Zane said. “Homelessness is a very complex issue. It’s
not the fault of the whole city council and certainly not one
“It is part of national phenomenon that I think this City
struggles with heroically. They (voters) are not about to blame
one council member for it.”
Mayor Bob Holbrook, who was attacked in several SMRR mailers
during the final days of the hotly contested race, said Tuesday’s
results show that negative campaigns don’t work.
“We all got hit,” Holbrook said. “This tells
us that negative campaigns don’t change the outcomes of
elections that much as long as you have endorsements, and we (the
incumbents) had all the key endorsements.”
Jenna Linnekens finished a distant sixth with 2,578 votes, followed
by Terence Later with 2,217 votes, Mark McLellan with 1,861 votes,
Linda Armstrong with 1,532 votes and Jonathan Mann with 1,369